Jet lag causes one to do strange things. Instead of spending a quiet weekend getting some much-needed rest after a 33-hour sleepless journey back to Dushanbe from the US, I allowed myself to be persuaded to don a heavy pack and climb up into the Fan Mountains for an overnight. And this, with a group of committed birders who find no peak too high, no crag too rough to scale in pursuit of the rara avis. Well, anyway, I survived despite the cold and lack of oxygen and found the most wonderful camping spot I've ever seen (at a mere 3,300 meters - 11,200 feet altitude!). A few pix (click on the image to enlarge):
On the drive in (about an hour over a dirt-and-rubble road) we came upon this train of donkeys hauling hay. It's the haying season now up in the mountains, with winter obviously not to far off up here.
About halfway up (400 meter/1350' ascent) the path from where we parked the cars we encountered a herd of goats directly in our way and who would not under any circumstances make room for us. Can't blame them; it was a lovely spot for sunning oneself under the hot Tajik sun. The goatherder scowled at us for presuming that the goats might actually make way for us. In the event, we made a wide detour along the slopes of the ridge.
Our alpine campground at 3,300 meters. A clear brook bounded it on two sides and small rises on the other two. The daytime temperatures here got to perhaps 20C (68F) but at night it went below freezing. (In Dushanbe, only a few miles south, the daytime high was around 40C [104F] and nighttime low about 18C [64F]. Of course I was wholly unprepared for the nighttime cold and spent the night shivering. My tent is the one to the extreme left. But the ground was soft with no backbreaking rocks, and the nighttime sky - incredible! One of the birders brought a telescope and we saw three of the moons of Jupiter quite clearly. We heard dogs or wolves howling at night and something prowled around the campsite in the dark. I don't want to know what it was!
Ascent to a pass between peaks at about 3,800 meters (13,000 feet).
A random glacier. One supposes that it is never summer up here...I want to return before, say, October for some true winter camping, if it's not snowbound.
One of my coworkers came up here the following weekend to see the Perseids. It must have been quite a show!